Job Description of a Cafeteria Manager

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a cafeteria manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification options to find out if this is the career for you.

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With a high school diploma or GED, you can start on the road to become a cafeteria or food service manager. In addition, you'll need a few years of experience in order to work your way up the ladder. Also, it might behoove you to acquire further appropriate training through a community college, vocational or culinary school.

Essential Information

Cafeteria managers ensure compliance with health and safety standards and plan and provide nutritious meals. They might work in cafeterias for schools, hospitals or corporate offices or as part of chain restaurants. A high school diploma or GED is the minimum education needed for this job, though candidates wanting to earn a postsecondary certificate or degree can find relevant programs in food service management; some jobs in corporate cafeterias may require postsecondary education. On-the-job training is common for new hires. Experienced cafeteria managers can pursue voluntary certification from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent at minimum; undergraduate degree and certificate programs are available
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Certification Voluntary
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% for all food service managers
Median Salary (2015)* $48,690 for all food service managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Description and Duties

A cafeteria manager oversees employees and food production. General managerial responsibilities include hiring and mentoring employees and scheduling work hours. Cafeteria managers take inventory, order food and supplies and check the quality and quantity of orders received. They ensure that cafeteria operations follow all sanitation and health regulations and that meals meet nutritional standards.

Managers often handle customer complaints and resolve issues related to food quality. They monitor the food's taste and appearance and may consult with the chef to plan healthy and cost-effective menus. Cafeteria managers keep detailed administrative records regarding meal plans, costs and hours worked. They often handle receipts and cash, and they manage employee information such as tax records.

Cafeteria managers might assist with the promotion of various cafeteria or company initiatives, such as creating an environmentally friendly food service or advertising and arranging for customer donations to a local charity. In a larger cafeteria, they often communicate with the supplier that provides the cafeteria with food.

Job Requirements

Successful cafeteria managers should be calm, flexible and mentally alert. They should be able to handle the stress of juggling multiple activities at once and need to maintain a professional appearance. Cafeteria managers should be able to start projects, lead others and communicate effectively. Many positions require managers to be on their feet and perform heavy lifting. The ability to speak another language might be helpful.

Educational Background

Positions in school cafeterias generally require a high school diploma or GED. Restaurant chains usually offer training programs for employees to move into managerial positions. For employees entering as managers of a corporate cafeteria, a postsecondary degree is increasingly necessary. Cafeteria managers might be recruited from educational programs in hospitality or food service. Bachelor's and associate's degrees are available, as well as certificates. Course topics might include nutrition, sanitation and business.

Experienced cafeteria managers are eligible for the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification, which is a professional credential awarded by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The requirements for becoming an FMP include accumulating 2-3 years of managerial experience in the food service industry and holding a lower-level food safety certification, such as the Food Protection Manager Certification from ServSafe.

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

The median annual salary of food service managers, including cafeteria managers, was $48,690 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs for food service managers were predicted to increase just 5% during the 2014-2024 decade, due to fewer new establishments opening, per BLS reports.

Though you can start on your way toward a cafeteria or food service manager with just a high school education, you'll also need some on-the-job training. Certificate and degree programs are also available through various education bodies. Earning various industry certifications as a manager can qualify you for the professional credential of Food Service Management Professional from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

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